Dehydration can lead to serious heat illness

August 03, 2010

Before they head back for fall sports practices, make sure your young athletes know how to stay hydrated

Two-a-days. Back-handsprings. Marching band drill-downs. These are a few activities that your football players, cheerleaders, marching band players and other fall athletes are concentrating on as they prepare for fall sports. In August. Outside. Under the boiling hot sun.

One thing they’re probably not concentrating on? Hydration. Most teenagers prioritize it about as much as cleaning their rooms.

But as a parent, you’ve heard the stories about athletes collapsing on the field from dehydration, heat strokes and worse. You are going to make sure your kid isn’t the one who ends up in the headlines.

Dr. Shane Miller speaks on hydration

How? Take a look at the tips from Dr. Shane Miller, sports medicine specialist with the Sports Medicine program at Children’s. He recently talked to a group of middle school football players about health issues and sports. In this segment, he talks about hydration.

Also, follow this simple, proven hydration routine from the Sports Medicine specialists at Children’s:

  • Begin drinking water two hours before exercising.
  • Drink 1 ounce of water for every 10 pounds of body weight.
  • For really tough practices, also drink 0.6 ounces for every 10 pounds of body weight in 20-minute intervals during exercise.

A few examples:

  • A 120-pound athlete should drink 7 ounces every 20 minutes during exercise.
  • A 150-pound athlete should drink 9 ounces.
  • A 180-pound athlete should drink 11 ounces.
  • A 210-pound athlete should drink 13 ounces.

Sports drinks or water?

Sports drinks, juices and even sodas do provide some degree of hydration. Still, water is generally best because it lacks the calories and additives found in other drinks. However, if you expect to exercise for an hour or longer, sports drinks are better because they replace electrolytes that are lost as an athlete sweats.

Dehydration: Know the signs

Make sure you — and your child’s coach — are aware of the following signs. Your children should also recognize these in case they, or a teammate, become overheated.

  • Dark urine
  • Dry lips and mouth
  • Decrease in reaction time
  • Decrease in physical performance
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Apathy
  • Disorientation

If your young athlete notices any of these signs, he should rest and drink water or sports drinks. If the symptoms persist, take your child to a doctor. Disorientation, inability to drink or pale skin may mean your child has a serious condition that should be treated as a medical emergency.

Want more sports tips for your young athletes? Check out future issues of Children’s Connect for topics such as concussions, supplements and energy drinks.

Read more about:

  • Safety tips for football, basketball, cheerleading, gymnastics and more
  • Pre-season sports physicals